Brandon Koen brings on the laughs and the screams in new film ‘Roommate Wanted’

Brandon Koen brings on the laughs and the screams in new film ‘Roommate Wanted’
Brandon Koen brings on the laughs and the screams in new film ‘Roommate Wanted’

As a child, spending his earliest years living in Johannesburg, Brandon Koen found a passion for film. He distinctly recalls watching Edward Scissorhands and being transported into that world on screen, captivated by the visuals of the movie. At that impressionable age, he was blown away by how he did not even notice time go by as he got sucked into the story. As he aged and moved from South Africa to England, that love for movies only intensified, and he knew one day he wanted to be a part of that cinematic world.

Now, as an acclaimed actor, sought internationally for his talent, Koen is creating that movie magic for others that he so enjoyed in his youth. Best known for his film Benji, which won him the award for Best Actor in an Indie Film at the Los Angeles Film Awards 2019 as well as the Festigious International Film Festival, Koen knows how to become a character and enchant his audience. He is also well-known for films such as Night Shift, where he won Best Supporting Actor at the Los Angeles Actors Awards 2019, Don’t Be Weird, a role where he took home Best Actor at the Indie Short Fest 2019, and many more.

Koen’s most recent success story is the film Roommate Wanted. This horror comedy follows two college students after they unintentionally sublease their extra bedroom to a violent escaped mental patient with multiple personalities. They soon find themselves battling for survival against the many faces of white male rage that manifest and threaten them in their home.

Roommate Wanted showcased such a wide range of different diverse characters. The film follows the story of a group of people living in the same house who put out a notice for a new roommate. Dean seems great at first but turns out to be a killer suffering from multi-personality disorder. I appreciated that Michael, the director, made sure to have a diverse cast and handled the subject matter with delicacy, while being able to find the comedy in it. In addition to that there was great representation of LGBTQI characters, such as my character and the character of Kate. It’s encouraging to see LGBTQI people represented on screen in a way that doesn’t make it about them being a part of the community but includes it as a normal fact of life,” Koen described.


Koen was initially drawn to the project because of the opportunity to work with Producer Gill Holland, who won Sundance and Cannes with his film Hurricane Streets, and Director Michael McCartney. It was McCartney who invited Koen to audition for the project after the two of them had worked on the film Nightclub Confessions, as McCartney knew he needed a seasoned and talented actor to make his newest film a success.

“Brandon is always professional while still being able to embrace the fun in the character and play in the scene. He brings a unique truth to his work and is able to do so even when engaged in the broadest comedy. He has range and the bravery to take a risk which is the definition for any true artist in my opinion,” said McCartney. “He comes at things from an honest perspective and that frees him to be confident in everything he does. He seems comfortable in himself and that helps him be comfortable creating all sorts of characters. He’s smart, thoughtful and is always present in the work.”

In Roommate Wanted, Koen plays Buckley, the wealthy, flamboyant best friend of the lead character Maria. Buckley is pivotal for the story specifically in his scene with Dean (the killer), he uses his martial arts to take him down and free Maria, Lucy and Ricky from the basement where they were being held, but the character is also important for the heart he brings to the story. Audiences root for him and mourn for him, and Koen knew he needed to capture this important character’s spirit.

No matter the part he takes on, Koen always tries to bring part of himself to the role, and Buckley was no different, deciding to play Buckley in a British accent to display the sophisticated, over-the-top nature of the character.

“While the character provided a lot of comedic relief for the story, I didn’t want to make a mockery or a caricature of the character, so I made sure to do the prep to figure out who this person was and play him honestly as a three dimensional human being,” said Koen.

Koen’s instincts for Buckley more than paid off. Roommate Wanted was shown at Shriekfest, the longest running horror film festival in Los Angeles. It has also been featured at Salem Horror Fest, Bahamas International Film Festival, Crimson Screen Horror Fest where it won Best Screenplay, LGBTQ Unbordered Film Festival, where it took home Best in Show, Excellence in Directing and Acting, and the Horror Hotel Film Festival  .

Brandon Koen - ‘Roommate Wanted’
Brandon Koen – ‘Roommate Wanted’

“I’m just really excited to be a part of something that’s providing representation for people. It’ll be an honor to have our premiere at the prestigious Raleigh Studios,” Koen concluded.